Vegetable Soup and why there is a dearth of culinary prose in modern fantasy

I suspect it is because most fantasy writers are geeks. Self-included. And what do geeks eat? Twinkies, Doritos, and Lunchables. Self not included. Oh, and they also feed on pizza, various frozen, mechanically-extruded food by-products that must be heated up in the microwave (note: the real reason such foods must be heated up in the microwave isn’t to make them warm, its to kill off the bacterias and various poisons that naturally congregate in such materials), Slushees, and vast amounts of candy.

This geek diet means that when a geek fantasy writer is writing his or her (note: see how modern I’m being, including the style-killing, deadweight phrase “his or her”?; applause, please) fantasy trilogy (note: or, in the case of Robert Jordan mimics, never-ending story of interminable and eternal jaw-dropping, mind-numbing length) and the writer arrives at a scene involving food, they go blank.

“Uh, what do elves or dwarves or assassins or firemages or dragonmages or farm boys-destined-to-save-the-world-by-suddenly-manifesting-illogically-amazing-mad-fighting-skills eat?”

Fantasy geek writer’s brain starts to heat up as his RAM tries to access suitable eating experiences stored in the files of his subconscious.

Twinkie? negative/goto/next
Slushee? negative/goto/next
Cold pepperoni pizza with suspicious mottling of grey-green? negative/goto/next…

This feedback loop that occurs in many fantasy writers’ minds is actually the real reason for most unexplained cases of spontaneous combustion and/or basement fires.

Which brings me to vegetable soup, of course. If you had a big pot of vegetable soup handy when one of those spontaneous combustion cases initiated, you could just dump it over the guy (or gal) and save him (or her) for another day of writing deathless prose such as:

The firedragonzombie mage waved his (or her) wand in a really cool sort of way and shouted an amazing spell that caused a fireball (or bolt of ice or _____) to hit his (or her) opponent for minus 12 hit points.

No, that is not lifted from an existing book (not that I know of; though, I might’ve gotten lucky). I’m not that snarky.

Vegetable soup? Oh, yes. Due to my personal health inclinations, I just finished putting together an enormous pot of vegetable soup. It is simmering on the stove as I type. Contents: carrots, celery, fennel, beets, cauliflower, potato, a huge bunch of fresh dill, green beans, Brussels sprouts, the juice of one lemon, onion, salt, Wolfgang Puck’s organic chicken broth (his face on the box seemed to be sneering at me while I cooked), 16 ounces of coconut milk (thank you Walmart for, oddly enough, selling better quality coconut milk than all the other grocery stores around here), salt, and various curry-oriented spices.

Simmer for several hours, blend with a stick blender, freeze into portion-appropriate bags, consume at leisure over the next week.

If the general population of geek fantasy writers out there would adopt this simple habit of making their own vegetable soup, I’m convinced it would alter the face of fantasy novels for years to come.

7 thoughts on “Vegetable Soup and why there is a dearth of culinary prose in modern fantasy”

  1. I’ll have you know that my main character is about to learn to bake bread. Real, honest-to-goodness, slam-the-dough-on-the-counter bread, whole-grain by default. I think it’ll be made with sourdough, too, not yeast cakes (they don’t have those there, I don’t think. Pre-industrial society.). It would go marvellously well with your soup. Come to think of it, I might have to make a test batch first; it’s been some time since I made sourdough bread.

    1. Do you cultivate your own starter? I just found out yesterday that King Arthur Flour sells a 250-year old starter that began back in the 1700s. Pretty awesome. $7.95 for a little tub of it.

      1. Whoa. I want some. But being in Canada, it wouldn’t be allowed across the border.
        Yeah, I cultivate my own. I cheat, actually – I start the starter with boughten yeast. I think I once did the real scratch-start thing with nothing but flour & water, but I don’t remember if it worked or not.

        1. Tsk. You Canadians. Obviously some bad blood between you and King Arthur (ie., the symbolic stand-in for Ye Olde Mother England).

  2. I may or may not be ashamed to say this, but I gave up on Robert Jordan two books into the series and just read the book summaries on Wikipedia.

    There. It’s off my chest. I feel better now.

    1. I can’t remember exactly, but I think I lasted about four books in before giving up. You’re a wiser man than I am.

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